On the weekend of the 6-8 November, Michael Albrecht, Computer and Digital Forensics ’16, and Matthew Stark, Computer Information Technology ’16, participated in the inaugural Creative Minds Social Entrepreneurship Hackathon hosted by the US Embassy in Ireland and The Ryan Academy in Dublin City University.
From the 120 student participants gathered from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, American study abroad students and other international students. 15 mixed teams were assembled. Their goal was to create a social innovation product or service that would improve the lives of young people. With the guidance of 30 mentors from leading high-tech and multinational companies, like Intel, IBM and Pepisco, the three-day hackathon encouraged participants to ideate, incubate, network, and create solutions, culminating in a pitch zone competition where groups presented their ideas to an expert panel.
The winning project, €duca$sion, involved an online banking platform offering young people a practical way to learn about budgeting and banking. The team’s project intends to talk to banks and credit unions to see how the concept could be rolled out in the near future.
Champlain’s representative on the €duca$sion team, Matt Stark commented, “It was a very fun and challenging event. Those running it and the mentors provided as resources were constantly challenging us to do more. We would come up with an idea an no sooner would we show it to a mentor they would find problems and tell us to refine it or scrap it completely and make it better. I think that this kind of learning culture is great and really fosters the creation of great products, which I think is the goal of a hackathon.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, commented that the winning team provided a “fantastic example of creativity and innovation: you are leading the way for the next generation of leaders.”
Champlain student Mike Albrecht, member of the team LGTB Asylum Assist, received an honorary award and commented that “over the course of the weekend, our team worked tirelessly to create a data analytics platform whose purpose is to strengthen the cases of LGTB asylum seekers fleeing intolerant countries. One of the biggest issues for asylum seekers is proving that they’re actually a member of the LGTB community, and courts have historically taken some fairly inappropriate measures in trying to validate such claims, while often relying on evidence that plays into stereotypes.”